Ideas to Read and Pass Along

Kevin & Jackie Freiberg

Focus Forward! Lead with Vision

What we focus on has the power to affect our present and control our future. Therefore, the thoughts and feelings that dominate our day and filter the events, the people, and the interactions in our lives are critical. We may not be able to choose all the events that impact our lives, but we can choose how we think, process, and deal with each event in our life. And it’s these choices that determine how we feel and perform.

We’re not asking anyone to deny or gloss over the reality of current economic difficulties and the effects on our businesses. Dissecting problems or analyzing mistakes has helped many of us face reality, learn valuable lessons, and minimize the likelihood of repetition. The question comes down to motive and intent. If your real motive is to learn and find solutions for moving forward, that’s great. But a habitual focus on problems (and not solutions) gets you nowhere fast! Moaning and complaining drains your energy and zaps productivity.

Where you focus can also become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Focusing on what’s wrong with the economy and fearing the worst for your business will drive you and those around you toward behaviors that are counterproductive. Ruminate on problems long enough and they get bigger. Spend enough time blaming others, and the bad guys get worse. What we dwell on gets in us. If we are filled with negativity and doom and gloom, it spills out of us and leaks onto everyone we bump into and work with.

A far more productive approach is to focus forward on where you want to take the business. Develop a habit of focusing forward and you will engage in more activities that support your goals. Spend more time thinking about solutions, and your problems become more manageable. Appreciate the strengths and gifts of the team around you, and they become more valuable. All of this increases the likelihood of getting the results you want, and in turn, motivates everyone to stay focused in a solution-driven direction where everyone is involved in what CAN be done.

The benefits to focusing forward are many. And here are five that are quite compelling.

When you lead with vision and help your team focus forward, it will enable you to:

1. Overcome Defeats and Roadblocks.
Focusing forward has the potential to elevate hope, and without hope you’ve got nothing. Victor Frankl said that those who survived the terror of the Nazi death camps were not necessarily the strong, healthy, or able-bodied; it was those who had a sense of hope fueled by something important they had left to do in life. The horrendous day-by-day reality of those death camps was the same for everyone. But, those who were able to focus forward and remind themselves that they had something yet to live for were far more capable of hanging on. What do you want to accomplish? What challenge, what goal, what dream can provide the fuel you need to live your life with more passion and more purpose? Hope isn’t something you are given. Hope is something you awaken in yourself and in others! How can you inspire yourself and your team to focus on achieving something that is worthy of your time, efforts, and energy that just might elevate hope and fuel productivity in the process?
2. Transcend petty preoccupations.
Focusing forward is about the bigger “YES” for our businesses and our lives. It’s about what we ultimately want to accomplish. From time to time, we all get caught up in petty preoccupations or superficial things that really don’t matter; they keep us from focusing on more relevant, important issues. Vision-driven leaders and businesses that focus forward rarely have time for, or interest in insignificant problems that others want to ruminate on. That’s because they have a bigger “YES” that mentally catapults them over the superficial toward what is ultimately important. When you find yourself or a colleague ruminating on an issue, ask, “Is this really worthy of our time and energy; is it high leverage?” If the answer is “NO,” transcend it and move on to something that really matters!
3. Improve decisions and performance.
Focusing forward is about emphasizing your strengths, what you do right, and what you CAN do. When you focus on what is working and what can be done, you build momentum and increase your desire to move forward. Also, when you have a clear sense of the outcome you’re trying to achieve, your decision making becomes more deliberate. This is because the “rightness” or “wrongness” of your decisions and performance becomes more apparent when you know if you are moving toward or away from realizing your vision or goal. Success begets success; how can you celebrate what is working and drive performance and decision-making forward?
4. Inspire solutions and innovations.
Learning to focus on solutions expands our problem-solving capacities. The more we exercise this muscle, the stronger it becomes. If enough people choose to focus forward, the organization develops a problem-solving DNA that fosters a culture of creativity and innovation. After all, what are innovations but people’s ultra-creative attempts to solve problems? When you are up against the next big challenge, avoid the blame game and get everyone involved in exercising their creative and innovative muscles.
5. Strengthen collaboration.
When people focus forward, they naturally become less defensive and less fearful. Trust and cohesiveness grows when people are more secure. Accountability grows, performance improves; and this leads to the kind of collaboration and cooperation that makes a team a force to be reckoned with, a unified front driven to realize a vision.

A clearly defined vision complimented with a passion for focusing forward will help you build a more productive, results-driven culture where everyone is focused on making a difference, being accountable, and driving performance in the right direction!

The graph below is a clear visual on what forward vs. backward focus can inspire:

Focus Forward

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